Thursday, 20 February 2014

Penge Green Gym Newsletter: Late February 2014

Improving weather?
"It was a hard rain, a perpetual rain, a sweating and steaming rain; it was a mizzle, a downpour, a fountain, a whipping in the eyes, an undertow at the ankles; it was a rain to drown all rains and the memory of rains" ~ Ray Bradbury, ‘The Long Rain’.

That pretty much describes January and February in Winsford Gardens. The Meteorological Office announced today that officially the UK has had the wettest winter since records began.

Ian isn’t praying for the rain to stop. He is pulling out the dense Ivy ground cover from the beds and it was back-breaking work on a cold wet Wednesday. However, last Wednesday the sun finally appeared again, even if it wasn’t a ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ day. That meant that it was dry enough for us to finally complete those new benches near the Garden Road entrance as well as really tackling some of the weeds and the soil quality in the flower beds.
Spring is coming!
It is amazing how the gardens have been transformed in just a single week with blossom 'out' in the trees, as well as daffodils, crocuses and primroses. At last there is some colour in the gardens once again.
 In the coming weeks we still want to add some picnic tables to the other seating area and in the urban orchard.  Other tasks will be designed to keep us active and warm during the colder months and also improve the general surroundings of the park. These may include the construction of a bog garden and a composting toilet but both are subject to funding.

Some of our local feral ‘Wild’ life have damaged our willow dome yet again. This time the damage is so bad that we will need to cut some new willow to make the necessary repairs so this will be an ongoing project. Once Keith has qualified to drive the LB Bromley van this will make it easier for us to collect gardening materials such as willow.

Our other activities will include the construction of another raised bed within the propagation area, some long overdue tool maintenance, and the creation of some small bird boxes and a large insect hotel which we will use in our activities for children during our Open Garden Squares Day on Saturday 14th June 2014.

  Preparations for our Open Day continue. More detailed information will be given nearer the time, but this year we hope to have some guest speakers and a seed/plant swap. Those are among other ideas we are still working on. We will need as many volunteers as possible on the day to man the stalls and activities.

Volunteering Impacts Conference
On 27th March TCV are holding a Volunteering Impacts Conference at Waterlow Park, Highgate. This conference aims to examine the impacts of volunteering on pro-environmental behaviours, community resilience; on volunteer’s health and wellbeing; and the wider social impacts of volunteering. The Penge Green Gym will be a case study at this conference and two of our volunteers and leaders, Brenda and Dave, will be speaking briefly.
Tickets are available from
Another event in the future, but to look out for: One of our volunteers, Dave, will be walking the Pennine Way in June-July and will be looking to raise some sponsorship towards the Penge Green Gym. More information will be coming soon.
Goodbye Len!
Next week we will say goodbye to one of our longest serving volunteers and leaders. Len was a key player in the formation of Penge Green Gym, and in guiding it to our independent community group status. He will be sadly missed by us. Thank you Len from all at PGG.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Green Gym Newsletter Early February

Hi Green Gym supporters

Can it really be February already? If you didn’t think it could get any more soggy in Winsford Gardens, then think again! Last week was only the second time I can remember us finishing up early; we are out in all weather conditions, but the lawns were being ruined by our walking on them. This week we were thinking of opening Winsford Gardens Lido, but thankfully the rain has finally stopped.
Despite the weather we have had a record turnout of volunteers during the winter months and have even welcomed along some new faces. We were able to complete building the second dead hedge and the new seating is almost completed. We have applied for funding for our proposed Bog garden and have even undertaken some landscaping by the ponds as preparation work. The Greenhouse has also been tidied and given a good clean out. And we have been busy making more willow structures from the remaining willow withies. 
Late Knights & the Palace Pint

We were quite surprised, but pleased to receive a donation of £95 from the Late Knights micro-brewery in Penge. They auctioned off their very last barrel of the Palace Pint in aid of Penge Green Gym. Thanks are also due to the Westow House public house who won the auction and paid up the cash. The Palace Pint was a bitter brewed using hops actually grown by Crystal Palace Transition Town members in their own gardens! Palace Pint will be selling hop packs again this year around March so if you would like to join the project you can find out more about the Palace Pint here:
And you can discover more about our local Penge brewery here:

Open Garden Squares 2014

We have already begun the planning for our third annual open day as part of the Open Garden Squares Weekend. Please put the date in your diaries now: Saturday 14th June 2014 because we will require as many volunteers as possible to help out on the day. We would like to make this year bigger than ever, so as well as our very popular children’s activities, plant sale and refreshment tent, we are also planning a few guest speakers, as well as a few new surprises that are still under wraps.

If you haven’t yet heard of the Open Gardens Squares Weekend, it is a prestigious event in the gardeners calendar when gardens all over London open their doors to the public. There are private gardens which are never usually open such as 10, Downing Street or HM Prison gardens. There are gardens inside shipping containers, on canal barges, wildlife gardens and rose gardens, historical private squares and contemporary roof gardens, in museums, schools and hospitals or private residences. And Winsford Gardens is one of them. You can read more about the Open Garden Squares Weekend here:

And finally if you haven’t yet “Followed” us on Twitter or “Liked” us on Facebook, then please do:

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Volunteering Impacts Conference

Volunteering Impacts Conference

The Conservation Volunteers

Thursday, 27 March 2014 from 12:30 to 16:00 (GMT)

Waterlow Gardens, Highgate, London, United Kingdom

  Tickets:- Eventbrite

TCV has long championed the wider impacts of conservation volunteering, for example linking to community development, regeneration and more recently health.
However, while it is relatively straight forward to record the conservation output of what a volunteer achieves in terms of objective results such as the number of trees planted, it is much harder to measure other benefits to people and communities such as improvements in environmental behaviours, health and wellbeing.

The conference aims to fill this gap of knowledge and launch an independently commissioned report from Resources for Change to present the findings from TCV's Green Impacts project on the impacts of volunteering on pro-environmental behaviours, community resilience, and TCV’s work to monitor health, wellbeing and the wider social impacts of volunteering. 

This exciting event will be running in parallel with a large volunteering impact event in the park.

Who is it for? Professionals working in the third sector, academics, experts in sustainability and volunteering, community groups, volunteers, policy makers and concerned citizens.
The main topics 
  • The Impacts of Volunteering on Pro-environmental Behaviours;
  • The Impacts of Volunteering on Well-being;
  • Community Resilience;
  • Next steps for Impact Measurement and Mapping.
11.00 (optional) Volunteering Activities in the Park
12.30 Lunch and registration
13.00 Opening address - Rita Clifton, TCV Chair
13.05 3 min Film “What does Volunteering mean to me?”
13.10 Key note address –Nick Hurd MP (TBC)
          The need for and benefits of measuring the impacts of volunteering in the UK
13.30 Launch of the Green Impacts report + Question Time Panel
  • Pro- environmental Behaviours – Roberta Antonaci, TCV 
  • Community Resilience  Mike King, Resources for Change 
  • Well-being  Valentine Seymour, PhD Candidate, CEGE (UCL)
14.30 A Case Study: The Penge Green Gym
14.35 Break and refreshments
14.50 Green Impacts Volunteer Award presentation
15.00 Meeting the challenges of measuring volunteering impact – discussion to
           identify the gaps in knowledge and how they might best be filled.
15.30 Future Developments: Impact Mapping - How can we map the positive impact
          of volunteering, Prof Muki Haklay– CEGE (UCL)  --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
16.00 End of the event

Open Garden Squares Day - 14th June 2014 in Winsford Gardens

Penge Green Gym will be holding our third Open Garden Squares day on 14th June 2014 from 10am to 4pm in Winsford Gardens, SE20 7RN.

The Open Garden Squares Weekend is a prestigious event in the gardener’s calendar where gardens all over London open their doors to the public. Last year over 208 gardens were involved in the weekend event, (including 10 Downing Street!) and Winsford Gardens was one of them. Other gardens range from historical private squares to contemporary roof gardens, in places as diverse as museums, prisons, barges and shipping containers.

Winsford Gardens is managed by Penge Green Gym, a group of volunteers set up in May 2011 by The Conservation Volunteers (formally BTCV). The volunteers have been working to transform Winsford Gardens into a vibrant community and wildlife garden for almost three years now. At this event we will be proud to show off all the hard work we have undertaken. Projects include constructing a growing area complete with greenhouse and nursery beds; seeding wildflower meadows; planting up the ornamental beds; building compost bins, seating, and a children’s playground, planting an orchard, hedgerows and a bog garden….the list goes on!

This year, as well as our very popular children’s activities, plant sale and refreshment stall, we will have guest speakers, and are planning a few new surprises. Watch this space for further details…
It will be a good chance to see for yourself how Winsford Gardens continue to change.
More information on the Open Garden Squares weekend at:
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